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Thread: Fire Hazards

  1. #1
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    Fire Hazards

    Hello!

    I was reading a good woodworking book last night and I came across a thorough discussion of fire hazards. I was surprised to learn that the hazards are not just the ones with combustible/flammable chemicals, but that there is a real risk of a spark igniting airborne sawdust......and piles of sawdust exploding into flame......

    So I'm wondering if anyone has ever experienced something like that or known of any stories like that or if the discussion was grossly exaggerated?

    thanks,
    cynthia
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  2. #2
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    Oh yeah, Take a handful of saw dust out to the burn barrel and throw it on the open flames...stand back though. Actually don't do that unless you feel safe doing so and be sure to be up wind.

    Actually it's been said many times that if you use PVC for dust collection tubing, be sure to run a ground wire in and out of the tubes every once in a while to discharge static. Don't know if anyone has ever been bit by a spark in that type of setup, but in concept it makes sense.

    I try to pickup the shop each night and keep the dust swept up, have seen fire spread via sawdust it's pretty scary.
    Last edited by Darren Wright; 11-29-2010 at 11:04 PM.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  3. #3
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    I had a dust collector fire once, but it wasn't from the dust, it was a capacitor on the motor that went bad. I was running the DC and all of a sudden noticed smoke in the garage. Fortunately, I got to it quickly and hit it with a fire extinguisher before anything more could go up than just the cap.

    Been paranoid about having fire extinquishers ever since. I've got a couple of the larger sizes mounted in the shop and a couple of smaller ones setting in handy places. Whenever I'm grinding something, or welding, I make sure I have one of the smaller ones right handy.

    I also make sure I sweep up any dust before doing those kinds of tasks. Also a good idea to put any flammables chemicals far away as well.

    I finally sorted through all my solvents and paint supplies and was shocked how much I had. For christmas, I'm getting my self a metal storage cabinet to keep all that kind of stuff in...

  4. #4
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    Almost any material will combust when mixed with the right amount of oxygen and the temperature hot enough, even sand.

    Bruce
    Bruce Shiverdecker - Retired Starving Artist ( No longer a Part timer at Woodcraft, Peoria, Il.)

    "The great thing about turning is that all you have to do is remove what's not needed and you have something beautiful. Nature does the hard part!"

  5. #5
    To answer your question Cynthia I have experienced something similar at a shop I worked in when I lived in Baltimore. The shop was heated with a hot air furnace that used scrap wood or coal to make the heat. Well one winter it was so cold we ran out of scrap wood and started to burn the coal at the bottom of the pile. Well one shovel of coal will last pretty much the whole day and burns very hot! Well someone put too much coal in the furnace and it made the air hot enough that all the dust that was in the ductwork ignited. Lets just say a bunch of us needed to check our drawers when we herd the boom and saw the smoke come out of each register.

  6. #6
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    This is the main reason that I bought a good dust collection system. Dust in the shop is really dangerous and all it takes is one spark to set it off. Insurance companies may have issues if you are setting up a shop inside your home without one. saying that we had a dust bin fire at work where a small chunk of metal went through a machine and sent a spark into the bin outside. No one thought much about it and it smoldered for hrs before it caught on fire. If it had been after hrs the entire shop could have gone up.
    Daily Thought: SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES..... NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS...............

  7. #7
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    I guess this means I shouldn't be smoking in the shop, eh?
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  8. #8
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    It's my understanding that if sawdust concentrations in the air are high enough to present a fire danger, the fire is the least of your worries...the airborne dust is a bigger threat to health and life. Yes, you can throw a handful of sawdust into a fire and create a big flash, but the chances of having an explosive concentration of dust present in your shop during the course of normal woodworking activities are pretty slim. Doesn't mean a person shouldn't be cautious and aware of any anomalies (like a chunk of metal going through the dust collector), but the typical woodshop isn't a bomb waiting to go off.

    On the issue of PVC dust collector lines and static electricity sparks, I no longer recall the source, but I read an article a few years ago arguing that it's virtually impossible to get the right combination of dust density and oxygen in a DC line to support a fire caused by static electricity. The article also claimed that there have been no documented cases of static electricity igniting a fire in a home shop DC line.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    It's my understanding that if sawdust concentrations in the air are high enough to present a fire danger, the fire is the least of your worries...the airborne dust is a bigger threat to health and life. Yes, you can throw a handful of sawdust into a fire and create a big flash, but the chances of having an explosive concentration of dust present in your shop during the course of normal woodworking activities are pretty slim. Doesn't mean a person shouldn't be cautious and aware of any anomalies (like a chunk of metal going through the dust collector), but the typical woodshop isn't a bomb waiting to go off.

    On the issue of PVC dust collector lines and static electricity sparks, I no longer recall the source, but I read an article a few years ago arguing that it's virtually impossible to get the right combination of dust density and oxygen in a DC line to support a fire caused by static electricity. The article also claimed that there have been no documented cases of static electricity igniting a fire in a home shop DC line.
    It still smarts touching a hose or pipe when it is charged. I'm not taking any chances Vaughn and there are articles out there that still talk about this. 6 of one half dozen of the other. Better safe than sorry. I don't know about your shop Vaughn but i am still cleaning up concentrations of dust even after installing the DC in the shop as it doesn't catch everything.
    Daily Thought: SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES..... NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS...............

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Cynthia White View Post
    I guess this means I shouldn't be smoking in the shop, eh?
    Or anywhere else! Come with me today as I make my hospital rounds and you will see why!

    I say this with love!
    Remember the tea kettle - it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it
    still sings!

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